Tuesday, February 24, 2009

KBBI Coffee Table February 25th

Tomorrow's KBBI Coffee Table Program Will Feature HEA Management's Perspective

9:00 AM - 10:00 AM
Wednesday, February 25, 2009

KBBI-AM 890, Homer
KDLL-FM 91.9, Kenai

HEA General Manager Brad Janorschke and Public Relations Coordinator Joe Gallagher will be the only guests.

KBBI News Director Casey Kelly chose not to invite any guests with differing perspectives:

I made that decision because there are so many issues surrounding HEA right now. I felt like the best thing to do was to have Brad come on and answer questions about everything from the rate increase to Healy to the power supply study to board elections and member relations.

But the fact is, no one is being given a soapbox. It's my position that a talk show is a dialogue between host, guests, callers, and listeners. No one element is given greater weight than another.

Nobody will be there to represent your concerns -- it's up to you to call in and express yourself.

Some basic talking points follow.

Talking Points:

Independent Power Source Study:
HEA should stop negotiations with GVEA for a Healy 2 Power Sales Agreement pending the outcome of the recently announced power source study.

HEA is a member-owned cooperative. Members have a right to know about HEA actions that will affect our utility rates. HEA must improve the ways members are informed. Why weren’t recent huge, mid-winter, rate hikes announced farther in advance? How come rate increases weren’t made in small increments over several months? Is HEA considering salary and benefits adjustments for its top management? Why do closed-door power sales agreement negotiations between HEA and GVEA continue? How will we be kept informed of progress and findings of the power source study and other projects?

High Risk:
The Healy Coal Plant faces significant and unknown costs from anticipated greenhouse gas and mercury rules. The Obama Administration is committed to enacting new rules that will limit emissions of greenhouse gasses, and the EPA is re-writing new, tougher rules on mercury emissions. These new rules will add significant Healy 2 startup and operating costs while increasing liabilities from litigation. AIDEA and HEA refuse to consider any of this in estimating costs. Such factors must be quantified before HEA commits us to any contract with GVEA.

Mounting Cost:
The Healy Coal Plant is a black hole for public money. Test runs in 1999 proved the facility could not provide reliable, “clean” power at a competitive cost. Despite this fact, the recent agreement on Healy 2 will retain its faulty technology. After pouring $300 million into this coal experiment how much more state money will a restart really take? The legislature will soon consider a bill to consolidate all railbelt utilities. Does HEA support this approach? What would consolidation mean for the Healy 2 agreement?

Higher Rates:

The Healy Coal Plant is likely to increase your electricity costs. HEA has lamented the 30 year contract with Chugach for natural gas since long before the gas cost spike. We got stuck with that contract because HEA thought gas would always be plentiful and cheap. Why does HEA think that, in the face of rising international demand, coal prices won't increase? Alaskan coal deposits may be vast but coal prices have never been stable. That’s because international markets dictate Alaska coal prices. International coal traders predict a 20% to 30% increase in just the coming six months. Under the current terms, HEA ratepayers will be forced to buy 1⁄2 the power from Healy, regardless of the cost.

Stable Rates:

HEA must look forward to renewable power, not backwards to coal. Alaska boasts enormous renewable energy resources that promise clean, fixed-cost power and sustainable jobs. After construction costs, renewable energy systems produce power on a fixed-cost basis, avoiding the market swings and pricet increases of fossil fuel. The Bradley Lake hydropower facility in Kachemak Bay is an excellent example, producing power at less than half the rate GVEA predicts for Healy 2. And it’s clean, reliable, fixed-cost power indefinitely. What ever happened to the idea of a gas-fired turbine on the Kenai Peninsula to bridge the gap until we can develop our renewable energy sources?

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